Celebrating 10 Years at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital

by Anne Baum

Building on more than 40 years of leadership in pediatrics, in 2012, Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) established a children’s hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest. In 2018, local philanthropists J.B. and Kathleen Reilly made a transformational gift that enabled the Children’s Hospital to expand and integrate services, making the Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital the premier institution for pediatric care in the region.

On Sunday, May 22, 2022, Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital officially turned 10, and the team kicked off a yearlong celebration of this important milestone. As the only children’s hospital in the region, Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital plays a critical role in the health and well-being of our kids. From the largest network of pediatricians to the region’s only Children’s ER, Children’s Cancer Center, Level II Pediatric Trauma Center, Regional Burn Center, Level IV neonatal intensive care unit, and Children’s Surgery Center, Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital is a local asset designed to serve as the champion for children’s health and well-being.

Why is a children’s hospital an important asset to a community?

Our kids are our future and investing in their health now, so they grow up to be healthy and productive members of our community, is critically important to our future.

Most kids are healthy, so a broad network of pediatricians focused on helping families raise healthy kids is the foundation. And when something does come up that requires specialty care, the emergency room or surgery, having Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital right here in the Lehigh Valley allows kids and families to receive their care close to home.

As the hospital marks its 10-year anniversary, Physician in Chief J. Nathan Hagstrom, MD, and Anne Baum, who became the hospital’s first President in January 2022, reflects on how the health network’s commitment to building a foundation of excellence in pediatric care has impacted the community, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our caregivers and colleagues at the Children’s Hospital are passionate about providing children in our community with high-quality, specialized care close to home,” Hagstrom says. “Providing specialized pediatric care includes having dedicated spaces and resources just for kids, so they feel welcome and comfortable.”

“It’s an exciting time of growth and development for our program as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of our accreditation as a children’s hospital,” Baum says. “We look forward to celebrating more milestones in the future.”

For example, when the new Breidegam Family Children’s ER opened in July 2021, doubling the size of the original ER to 27 beds, it came just in time.

“We saw our highest surge of pediatric COVID-19 cases, along with a surge of other respiratory viruses more typical in the winter, from July 2021 to January 2022,” Hagstrom says. “For several months, we were averaging 100 patients a day in the Children’s ER.”

“Having a dedicated entrance, waiting area, and observation area in the Children’s ER was critical to providing the specialized care children required, and it also helped our adult ER function more efficiently,” Baum adds.

Critical care close to home

The Jeffrey Paul and Grace Kathryn Feather Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) also opened in July 2021, with 12 patient care rooms and a dedicated lounge and reception area.

“Just after opening, we had days when every bed in the PICU was filled,” Hagstrom says, and that trend continues today. The Children’s Hospital is busy meeting the needs of our community, and it provides an opportunity for families to stay close to home while their children receive the critical care that they need.

A different way of caring – designed just for kids

Baum notes that the Children’s Hospital’s commitment to family-centered care proves critical. All patient care rooms are private and designed to enable at least one caregiver to stay with the child, even when visitation is limited. Our Child-Life program engages families and children in the care process. Through therapeutic play, activities, and age-appropriate preparation and education, child-life specialists help ease the stress and uncertainty surrounding a visit to the hospital.

Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital Child-Life program is the only one in the area where child-life specialists focus on children’s social, emotional, and intellectual growth. Our team helps meet the needs of children receiving medical treatment by offering opportunities for stress relief and relaxation, as well as distractions to make procedures easier.

Looking ahead

With more than 100 pediatric subspecialists and more than 30 pediatric specialties, Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital and its affiliated practices now offer more resources for pediatric care than any other institution in the region.

“Our main goal is to build on this foundation, expanding the breadth and depth of our specialty programs by adding more physicians and more services,” Hagstrom says.

“We continue to grow our services to make sure we deliver the services that our community needs,” Baum adds. “It’s a very exciting time – a time to celebrate how far we’ve come and plan how all the pieces we’ve put in place over the past 10 years are coming together to position us and the kids of our community for a bright future.”

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